Monthly Archives: January 2016

Drummer’s Weekend

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My writing partner and friend Rich Redmond will be hosting his fourth annual “Drummer’s Weekend” in two locations this year: Los Angeles, CA April 8-10 and Nashville, TN October 28-30. This one-of-a-kind immersive experience is not to be missed. In addition to learning from a professional group of guest teachers, speakers and panelists from the drumming community, attendees will also have the opportunity to perform in front of a paying audience. An all-star rhythm section will also be on-site to play with students and give them immediate feedback for improvement. This same rhythm section will act as the house band for the closing ceremony concert. All proceeds from this event will benefit local music schools. Lodging, transportation and catered meals are included with the price of admission. Join Rich for an experience that will give you the rare opportunity to study, hang and perform with some of the best players in the music business while learning valuable lessons that you can apply in all aspects of your life. For more information:

For registration/info visit: richredmond.com/what-rich-does/crash-with-rich/

For Facebook visit: https://www.facebook.com/CRASHwithRich/?fref=ts

For video promotion visit: https://youtu.be/SpMA_4vNrak

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Exclusive Interview: Sean Fuller

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Every once in a while a drummer comes along whose unique style goes well beyond the bounds of their genre. Whether it is found in their playing, their appearance, or a combination of the two, these drummers stand out among their peers. One such player is Sean Fuller who is the powerhouse timekeeper behind Florida Georgia Line, one of the most successful country duos to come along in recent years. When watching Sean play three things are immediately noticed.

First, you notice his passion for playing. Sean performs full on with fervor for entertainment. His motions are intentionally exaggerated to reach the fans in the back of the arena.

Second, you notice the massive size of his drum kit which is much larger than most country drummers. In fact his rig pays tribute to the days of the larger-than-life setups used by heavy metal drummers. With three bass drums and a mass of toms and cymbals, Sean’s literally surrounded himself with the tools of his trade.

The third thing you notice when watching Sean is his unique appearance which harkens to the days of 80’s hair bands. Decked out in neon headbands, matching sunglasses and black concert t-shirts Sean doesn’t look anything like a typical country drummer. His style is all his own. (Not surprising Sean has even licensed his look with his own signature clothing line “Be The Beast.”) This week Sean was kind enough to explain what makes him tick…

Tell us about your influences and how they have affected how you play today.

Big drum sets and larger than life playing has always been my forte though not at all what I am limited to in that aspect of playing drums. I’m 43 years young and in my teenage adolescence, what I am currently doing was nothing new. It was the “norm” back in the day. That said I absolutely pay tribute to the drummers that inspired and motivated me. When I was young and went to see a much younger Tommy Lee, Tommy Aldridge, Neil Peart, or Peter Criss, I could name a hundred more…. all larger than life players that were the driving force behind this style of play. When you went to see them play there was a certain command they had over the audience. That feeling gave me goose bumps. It wasn’t that they needed everything they had on stage, but as a spectator who went to see these drummers you already had a mindset that they were going to rock before they played one note.

So their appearance was an extension of their showmanship.

All of us that went to concerts both young and old can remember when you walked into the arena and saw the stage set up, your eyes were wide open anticipating seeing something amazing that was going to happen during the show. Your heart raced. You couldn’t help but be drawn in the air of excitement around you. Everything surrounding you from all the lights hanging from the rafters to the focal point of the stage which is, of course, the drum set, made up your mind that this was going to be an epic concert. All shows would ultimately be compared to other concerts you had already been to. This is where I come in. I remember these feelings from my youth and now that I have been blessed enough to be part of that focal point on stage, I’m taking full advantage of it, not just for myself but for all the spectators that have those same feelings that I did when I went to a concert.

Now you are the one entertaining and inspiring the audience.

Here’s the thing…we as musicians and artists make a pretty decent wage doing what we do. For God’s sake we get to play music for a living. I personally can think of several jobs I had growing up that sucked. How I describe my job now is this…I provide a “temporary vacation” for 15-20,000 people, 3-6 nights a week. That is a big responsibility. People nowadays have several choices of where they can spend their hard earned dollar. If it’s between an FGL show, or a movie, or a football game…I take it upon myself to make sure it’s an FGL show. No matter what is going on in my personal life, I drop it all before the stage and make sure not one person leaves dissatisfied. That my friends, is why I love what I do.

So your goal is to captivate the audience.

Absolutely. That is why I love putting together big or different kits. That sets me apart from the “normal” country drummer. I love giving a performance that everyone is talking about the next day. “DID YOU SEE THAT DRUMMER WITH THE PANTERA SHIRT AND SHADES AND SPANDEX?” Thing is, I’m not really doing anything that’s so out there that its distracting. I am simply having a great time on stage and making it a party every night I am up there. There are a whole lot of amazing drummers out there that can sit back, do their job, collect a paycheck and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. In fact, there are a whole lot of artists who prefer their backing musicians to stay in the shadows. I’m not that guy and my artists want me to be a visual aspect of the show.

Is that where you find your own satisfaction?

I always strive to make my performance for my guys and band bigger and better always. It’s what I call the “perks” to the job! When we have a good time on stage, everyone in the building is sharing in that good time atmosphere. It’s addicting and if I have an addiction, it’s loving what I do and knowing I may, in some small way, be changing a young kids life, career path, or brightening someone’s day. I love when I hear things like… “You don’t need three bass drums for country.” My answer to that statement is “Your right!” You don’t need what I put on that stage at all! But, if you love having a good time. If you love a great concert. If you love being around thousands of your fellow fans that know when they go see an FGL show that it’s always going to be bigger and better…you should come see this.

For more visit Sean online at:

“Be The Beast” website: http://bethebeast.bigcartel.com/

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/seanfullerrocks/

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Mike’s Alphabet Challenge

Here is a great exercise to keep your mind and chops sharp. Mike Johnston of mikeslessons.com put this out and I really enjoyed the challenge. The goal is to play a single paradiddle over-and-over while reciting every other letter in the alphabet. It’s a lot harder than it sounds. I was able to do it at a slow-medium speed but need more practice time to speed it up. My goal is to post a new video here once I get comfortable with it. Try it!

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Pros and Cons of Social Media

Today I want to take a quick moment and talk about the Internet. Ever since the development of social media sites to include YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, etc. people have communicated online with reckless abandon. The concept of posting comments in a virtual setting using a pseudo-anonymous personality has opened the door to both positive and negative comments. In many cases critical analysis of one’s work is understandable, even welcomed. That said mean and hurtful comments also come with the territory. By “putting it out there” one has opened themselves up to an assessment. I have found that often a balance can exist between the constructive and destructive. I am experiencing this trend over on my YouTube channel. Folks either like or dislike my posts with no feelings in between.

Fortunately for every negative comment that is posted I usually receive a positive one. As a result I welcome these online reviews and the remarks they represent. Good or bad. There is an old saying that goes “you can’t please everybody all of the time.” This is true. These comments can only make me better as I strive to improve my playing as a drummer both on and offline. Instead of becoming discouraged I am encouraged. I recommend maintaining a confident attitude no matter what people think. Don’t let the negative vibes overcome the positive. We all play drums for a variety of reasons and our journey with the instrument takes us down many paths. Stay steadfast regardless of others reactions and you will move forward. Here is an example of the pros and cons of YouTube that I have received (click pic for full size):

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Praise for FUNdamentals

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Example of “kid friendly” drum pattern tabs from book.

It’s one thing to brag about yourself, but it’s much more convincing when others share your praises. Our book ‘FUNdamentals of Drumming for Kids’ has already had an impact on the drum instruction industry which was, along with school music programs, a prime focus of the project. To be a best-seller in five countries is very humbling, but it is even more satisfying to see our target audience benefitting from the book and DVD. Like the title says, this book is “for kids” (although adult newcomers to the instrument have also used the book). Here are a few positive reviews we have received:

Here is a pic of my student Jess who is 11 years-old. She’s been working with me, at the drum bunker studios through your book, and is now at the four way independence stage. She’s doing absolutely fantastic with the book and also playing along to tracks like Billy Jean, My Future Husband, and Uptown Funk. She’s a great student. I’m also using exercises from your awesome book for some of my new adult students and it’s been extremely beneficial. Even the adults are asking where do I get the book or download, which I passed on to them. Thanks for bringing out such an incredible book, which personally I think should be in every drum school/facility. – J.L. Jones, Drum Bunker Studios

This book is absolutely a must buy for parents of prospective drum musicians in elementary school. It is thorough with the background of musical beats for percussion (drums) and easy to read for any instructor or parent wanting to guide their young musicians. When finished with this dynamic book, I predict the student will be able to play (jam) to songs and obtain much enjoyment with the connection. I am an elementary school teacher who has drummed since age 12. Now in my 55+ age range, I continue to seek improvement. I sure wish this book was out when I was young. Buy it, you’ll like it! And, it comes with a DVD! Great buy for your money. – D. Hirakawa

Fantastic! 7-year old grandson has a drum set now and was very excited to look at the book as well as – probably more often – watch the DVD. And his non-drummer Dad/Mom/Grandparents can serve as “coaches” by using the lessons in the book [even though we’re not drummers]. It’s laid out really well for facilitating skills that will build on each other in time. I hunted all over looking for something like this and it looks like I found the right thing. Will report back if it fizzles, but my money’s on this resource. – D. Lee

I got this book from Rich at PASIC at the Hal Blaine booth. This book is just what the doctor ordered for a beginning drummer. I especially liked the playing grids in the book. This is definitely a starter book for teachers and student alike. I wish this book would have been out when I had beginning student. It is very easy to understand and goes from grip to playing utilizing all for limbs and some music theory. One great teaching book for beginning drummers. – R.G. Mertz

Visit Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/FUNdamentalsOfDrumming

Buy the book at: http://www.moderndrummer.com/fundamentalsofdrumming/

Here’s a Bonus Lesson showing ‘FUNdamentals of Drumming for Kids’ in action. (This exercise uses lessons from the book and is included on the DVD): https://youtu.be/VkuDSXlt7yM)

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Electronic/Acoustic Percussion

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Today I want to talk about electronic auxiliary percussion. I currently use an Alesis PercPad (in place of a rack tom) and occasionally the Alesis Sample Pad. Both units have a variety of built in percussion libraries and are great for adding samples to your rig. My primary use of the PercPad is for electronic toms of which I have fondness for. Ever since Alex Van Halen sparked controversy among fans by using a hybrid electronic/acoustic set-up during the 5150 tour I’ve been interested in duplicating that tom sound (see here: https://youtu.be/XfH_dnPae0c). I also use it occasionally for sound effects. When using them as solitary units each one runs through a splitter directly into an amplifier. (This configuration would run through a mixer in a band setting.) I program sequential tom samples into each of the PercPad’s four pads and mount the unit off of a short cymbal stand slightly above the bass drum where a rack tom would normally sit. This does require some precision of stick placement but for the most part it is seamless.

According to the Alesis catalog:

The PercPad enables you to add four drum pads and an optional kick trigger to your acoustic or electronic kit or percussion setup. It’s compact, easy to fit into tight setups, easy to use, and it contains sounds that are perfect for accessorizing standard drum sets. The PercPad has four velocity-sensitive pads, a kick input, and high-quality internal sounds, all in a compact size that’s the perfect choice for drummers and other instrumentalists looking to start incorporating electronic percussion into their setups. Unlike massive, overcomplicated multi-percussion units, the PercPad is specifically designed to be small and self-contained with just what you need and nothing you don’t. The PercPad has a collection of acoustic and electronic drum and percussion that are perfectly suited to the needs of drummers and percussionists. You can easily tune and edit sounds, and assign any sound to any pad, or to the kick input. If the internal sound library doesn’t contain the sounds you need, the PercPad has a MIDI connection to you can use it to trigger sounds from any MIDI sound module or software on Mac or PC.

It is important to note that these electronic units are used to complement the acoustic portion of the kit (kick, snare, floor tom) not replace them. In order to properly utilize a hybrid configuration the overall sound of the drum kit must be balanced. Proper tuning must remain a priority (both acoustically and electronically) as hybrid drums should not replace the tonal stability of the kit. In addition, the rebound of the electronic pads is less than the acoustic toms and must be compensated with more powerful strokes. Despite these minor challenges the PercPad can expand your sound well beyond the confines of a standard acoustic kit and open up a whole new world of sonic possibilities.

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